iOS 11 might make 200,000 apps obsolete

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iPhone 7 in hand
Some of your favorite old games might get booted from iOS.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple’s decision to drop support for 32-bit apps in iOS 11 later this year could kill about 187,000 apps, based on a new report that shows some old apps have been slow to catch up.

Analytics firm Sensor Tower estimates about 8% of all apps on the App Store will become obsolete. That small percentage may sound insignificant, but old games might be impacted the most.

Apple first started supporting 64-bit apps with the launch of the iPhone 5s in 2013. The company didn’t require apps to support 32-bit at the time. Then in February 2015 the company notified developers that all apps submitted to the App Store must be 64-bit compatible by June 2015.

iOS 11 is expected to be announced at the annual World Wide Developers Conference in June. Apple hasn’t said yet whether it will drop 32-bit support, but it seems likely to happen with iOS 11 to streamline the software.

Of the nearly 200,000 apps effected, games would take the biggest hit. Just over 20% of the 32-bit apps on the store are games. Education apps are the next biggest group accounting for about 10% of apps doomed to obsolescence.

The launch date for iOS 11 will likely be set in the fall, so developers still have time to get their ancient apps up-to-date if they want to keep users happy.
32-bit apps breakdown

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  • Steve__S

    This makes sense on multiple levels. For starters, we’re talking about applications that have effectively been abandoned and not updated for modern standards. If they don’t support 64 bit, they probably also have the old iOS look. These apps are not optimized for performance either. Finally, Apple has to maintain 32bit and 64bit versions of libraries in order to support both types of apps. If you’re running both older and newer apps, then both sets of libraries have to be loaded into memory. This should really streamline efficiency and also serve to force updates to old apps. If they’ve been abandoned they should be pulled from the store just on principle anyway.

  • Andrew Mondt

    This is extremely annoying as some of these abandoned games I still enjoy.

  • Yarrenbool

    This makes sense from Apple’s point of view, I understand this. But what happens to people still using an iPhone 4S which, I think, is 32 bit?

    My main phone is a 6-Plus but I keep my old 4S as a backup, or spare, just in case. I also use my old 4S when traveling and pop a local SIM into it.

    I also know at least three people who have never upgraded their 4S and use them daily.

    I’m guessing that, like iOS on the 4S, apps will simply never get any updates nor will any future apps be built to run on the 4S, right?

    • CAIO MARIOZ

      They could upgrade to iPhone 5S

      • Yarrenbool

        Yeah, but I’m sure you know these types, they won’t consider upgrading until their 4Ss totally give up their ghosts! :-)

        With my own 4S it certainly isn’t worth upgrading. I’ll just wait till I upgrade to the “8”, or whatever it will be called, and then my current 6+ will take over from my 4S and become my spare and travelling phone.

      • buzz

        You can stay on iOS10.3 and no problem with 32bit games on your 6+

    • 5723alex .

      No problem as iPhone 4s won’t get iOS 11.